Yesterday, the Senate voted twice against ending debate on the Energy Policy Modernization Act.
Democrats blocked the two cloture votes in order to have more time to get a deal on securing money for Flint. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, the senators from Michigan, want $600 million for Flint, including $400 million to match state funds to repair and replace old pipes in the city, with the rest going to a research and education center on lead poisoning.
The Democratic caucus was mostly united behind Stabenow and Peters; however, six members of the caucus (five Democrats and one Independent) didn’t think securing money for Flint was important enough.
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Angus King (I-ME)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
These six voted for cloture twice. The first vote was 46-50, with eleven Republicans voting against cloture for various reasons and Mitch McConnell doing so for procedural reasons. On this first vote, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) broke with his colleagues to vote PRESENT.
The second vote was 43 to 52. On this vote, Whitehouse voted against cloture, as did three additional Republicans: Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), and David Vitter (R-LA).
Aside from all this, the Energy Policy Modernization Act is a bad bill in and of itself. Green groups have been very critical of it because it expedites liquefied natural-gas exports, ends a mandate to phase out fossil fuels in federal buildings, alters certain Energy Department efficiency programs, and expedites certain mineral mining permits. Despite speaking of “modernization,” it largely ignores renewable energy.